Burrows Stays Put

William Wilson September 17, 2012 10

It wasn’t someone’s finger, but Alex Burrows bit at the early chance to extend his stay in Vancouver.

On Friday, the 31-year-old winger singed a four-year contract extension with the only team he’s ever known from the inside. The extension is worth $18 million.

“All along, I always wanted to stay in Vancouver. As soon as the management showed interest in an extension, for me it was a no-brainer,” Burrows told reporters.

Alex Burrows at workPhoto by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

Burrows has slowly established himself as part of the core in Vancouver. He recorded his fourth consecutive 25+ goal campaign last season, and he holds a number of records for the team, including career playoff overtime goals.

Management is happy to keep the productive, if sometimes pesky, forward as well.

“This is a core player who is a huge part of what we do and what we want to do going forward, and we couldn’t be happier that he’s going to be a Canuck for the next five years,” the team’s assistant general manager, Laurence Gilman, said.

It seems safe to say Burrows is one of the team’s better performers during the regular season and one of its few reliable performers during the playoffs.

Beyond its immediate impact on Burrows’ bank balance, however, the extension raises a number of interesting questions.

For one, Shane Doan signed a similar extension on Friday.

Vancouver was allegedly the only other team on Doan’s wish list so the money earmarked for him may have simply made its way to Burrows instead once it became clear Doan was going nowhere. If this is the case, then it suggests Vancouver might be willing to part ways with Burrows under the right circumstances.

Another set of questions concerns the timing of everything. Burrows signed the extension in the final hours of the now defunct collective bargaining agreement (CBA). In fact, he was one of many “big” name players to sign new deals before the CBA’s expiration.

This calls into question the confidence of both the owners and players as they struggle to advance their competing interests in a new round of CBA negotiations. It also calls into question the sincerity of both sides as they are apparently comfortable working under the previous CBA when it suits their interests.

Gilman tried to preempt these questions by acknowledging the new economic landscape facing the league.

“We know what the tools are within this agreement. We have an opportunity right now to take advantage of those tools. What happens on the other side of Sept. 15th is something that we don’t know and, obviously, don’t have any control over,” he argued.

It’s better to trust the devil you know, I guess.

What Gilman’s statement doesn’t address is the responsibility of both the owners and players in creating such uncertainty, and why it is so important to reach a new CBA now.

Unfortunately, we have no answers to these more difficult questions. In their place, we have a lockout.

I’d prefer the answers.

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